Friday, November 2, 2007

Need a drink!

I am now back in Simi Valley having missed all the drama from the recent round of Santa Ana-fueled fires. After leaving Chicago, I took the opportunity to swing on though Boulder for some down-time and to catch up with my family.

With the traveling of late I have seen a lot of airports and airport bars and I have stopped by at weird hours of the day, looking for refreshments. I have been doing this for many years and some time back, I came across the establishment in the photo here – a Non Stop Bar and I thought that was pretty amusing.

While in Boulder I did get the chance to catch up with Dr. Richard Hackathorn of Bolder Technology, Inc. Richard has a consulting and education firm that specializes in Business Intelligence (BI) and Data Warehousing (DW) and I have been maintaining a dialogue ever since I joined GoldenGate. Given the recent move by HP into this space with Neoview, our paths have crossed quite a bit in recent times.

But on this occasion Richard and I talked more broadly about infrastructure and on the changes that were developing as the take up of Web 2.0, and the acceptance of the Web as a platform was becoming the subject of more media column inches than just about anything else. It was apparent to us both that even more changes were headed our way.

Web 2.0 is not a set of specifications or a test suite that certifies and validates any application as being Web 2.0 compliant. And Web 2.0 doesn’t imply any overhaul of the Internet itself. Web 2.0 is simply a term coined at an O’Reilly sponsored conference immediately after the bubble burst in the fall of 2001.

Essentially, as the financial community lamented the fall of the Internet and the Web, then from the ashes, technologists saw an even more promising technology emerging. An O’Reilly analyst pointed out that: “Shakeouts typically mark the point at which an ascendant technology is ready to take its place at center stage. The pretenders are given the bum’s rush, the real success stories show their strength, and there begins to be an understanding of what separates one from the other.”

For more on this, take a look at:

Richard and I have been taking the opportunity to check out the different breakfast cafes. We had met in cafes scattered around the county, from downtown Boulder to Niwot out on the Diagonal near the old IBM plant. But this time, the place where we met I had just not seen before. It was tucked into a corner of a part of Boulder now surrounded by Car Showrooms, Auto Body Shops, and Spare Parts stores. Yet the shop, pretty much unchanged for decades, continues to thrive. The folks who come in for breakfast are known to the staff and the remark “same as usual!” was repeated a lot.

And this made me think again about industries – small and large. While this cafĂ© still took orders the traditional way, with pen and paper and with order slips passed to the kitchen, how often do we see wireless hand-held terminals communicating orders to the kitchen? Or how many times have we seen a credit card processed by a wireless terminal, piggy-backing onto transactions opened up to non-traditional access, including over the Internet, and just taken it all for granted?

I continue to be impressed when a small farmhouse tearoom, deep in Cornwall, handled my US credit card, with all the network switching that goes on behind it, seamlessly and quickly with no visible evidence that the waiter was dealing with anyone other than someone from the village.

Banks have begun to open up a number of their key systems to direct internet access – even to wireless devices such as these. Even hotels now allow you to use their business centers to print out boarding passes, as I did recently at a Marriott. And at kiosks, I can check in directly as I did recently at a Hyatt. The world of online access is just exploding. And the more I travel, the more I am impressed that it all works!

I have been working with the Web, and with Web protocols and services, for many years. Back in the late 90s, when I was still with InSession, a phone company asked us if we could enhance our ICE SNA product to support the HTTP protocol and whether we could add a couple of services in support of Java applets. Out of that dialogue, WebGate evolved – simply a set of additional protocols and services extensions to the core ICE product.

But Richard had a lot more to say on Web 2.0, as he had just returned from IBM’s Information on Demand (IoD) conference the week before. I had elected to skip this year’s event, but had attended the first one last year in Anaheim.

What had caught Richard’s attention was a presentation by IBM on the emerging three layer model for enterprise computing built on top of three platforms. At the user interface level, there was the Web 2.0 platform. Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) and the ability to externalize applications and data as services formed the core of a middle platform. And behind it all was the data itself, with the technology to keep it fresh and accurate, acting as the back-end platform.

IBM had advised the audience, according to Richard, to pick its battles. They needed to know where to fight, what to defend, and when to walk away. No sooner had Richard expressed this then he had my complete and undivided attention. Was a major vendor like IBM going to advise using someone else’s product or build a strategy around a technology it didn’t provide? Was IBM going to leave a segment of the marketplace open to another technology? Perhaps not.

What IBM was advocating was to not worry anymore about the User Interface (UI). Instead, it was recommending that you put your company’s resources into supporting data quality and reliable delivery! Wow – and it got even better. Enterprise IT has to step up our efforts with data quality and reliable delivery or find themselves being bypassed entirely, as the end users quickly establish a “shadow enterprise”, a world where the pursuit of the quick-and-dirty, even if proven unreliable, takes hold. End users now developing skills at home will begin to bring them to the office and begin to question the viability of corporate IT departments.

Web 2.0, and corporate acceptance of Web 2.0 technology, is now critical to the future of enterprise architectures. When you move from screen-scraping to Web services, you have migrated to Web2.0. When you move from personal websites to blogging, you have migrated to Web 2.0. When you have moved from content management systems to wikis, you have migrated to Web 2.0. When you move from publishing to participation you have migrated to Web2.0. As an end-user, you now control your own data, as O’Reilly quickly recognized.

That’s cool and I am OK with that. But as IBM noted, we have to move fast now to deploy the other two key platforms – the services and the data. And we have to make sure the services, and the delivery of these services, is reliable and that the data has the quality expected. In short, we are now recognizing this changing landscape, according to Richard “because, following traditional IT methodologies, the need for functionality across our ever-changing business landscape is outstripping the capabilities of IT to meet it!”

While this may all be coming from IBM, is it really any different from what we are hearing from the HP NonStop group? From the time that phone company proposed adding support for HTTP into NonStop, I believed that the NonStop server would play an increasingly important role in front-ending web clients and ensuring Web services could be sourced from a true 24 X 7 platform. In short, provide the best available and scaleable services platform.

There’s just three things Randy Meyer, Director of Product Management at NonStop is committing his resources to support – Data Base (including partnership with the Neoview teams), Security (again, in collaboration with partners), and Services – with SOA offerings front and center stage of his plans. Actually, for all three areas, Randy enjoys a very substantial ecosystem of partners pitching in to flesh-out the product offerings.

And obviously, I am very comfortable with the goals here at GoldenGate to provide real time access to the data and to ensure that data platform, as IBM noted, is of the quality expected.

Richard and I plan to meet at a bar next time. I think we have had enough breakfasts – and I think we need to spend a lot more time kicking around ideas. I, for one, have never enjoyed battling it out at the UI level – my history at Tandem was littered with half-baked UI projects. Hidden in every new program was the funding for yet another UI and the amount of energy spent in negotiating the UI between opposing project teams was exhausting. So let the Web 2.0 dominate this platform. I am trusting that Randy will step up to the mark in support of Services as I know GoldenGate along with a number of other good partners, will be working overtime on the data.

In a recent comment posted to this blog, I was reminded of the Alvin Toffler novel “Future Shock” where he made the observation that there was “too much change in too short a period of time”. He argued, back in the ‘70’s, remember, that “the accelerated rate of technological and social change will leave (society) disconnected, suffering from ‘shattered stress and disorientation’ – future shocked!” We can never seem to break free from that old clichĂ© – the only constant is change!

Richard and I continued to kick around various scenarios, as we could see what IBM was promoting, and one thing was clear to me – there would be a lot of changes heading our way. Thank goodness that somewhere in the world there was a Non Stop Bar – the need to sort through all of this is only going to get more intense!


James Taylor said...

Blogged a response here, hope you like it.

James Taylor
The Smart (Enough) Systems blog
My ebizQ blog
Author of Smart (Enough) Systems

RT Writer said...

James Taylor wrote:

Last week Richard Hackathorn posted Where to Pick Your Battles and referenced an interesting post by Richard Buckle titled, somewhat incongruously, Need a drink! These two posts made me think about the value of picking decision management as your battle when thinking about upgrading your current IT environment to better support your business..

And for the complete story, check out his blog by clicking the link "here" ...

And thanks, James.